Former nurse who had sex with drug rehab patients ordered to probation

An ex-nurse who admitted to having sex with two patients at an inpatient drug rehabilitation center will not spend a day in jail.

Candace A. Seelbinder, 35, of Niagara Falls, New York, was sentenced to probation for 10 years on Tuesday. The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Jessica Griffin, 39, a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, had assaulted the same man.

Seelbinder and Griffin were arrested and fired from Northpointe Council’s First Step Chemical Dependency Crisis Center in July. An investigation conducted by the Justice Center and Niagara Falls Police found the pair had sexually assaulted patients at the 17-bed, non-medical detoxification facility, according to WBFO.

Seelbinder pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in November, according to The Buffalo News. Though Griffin pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of attempted third-degree rape, Seelbinder was offered a felony plea because there were two men involved in her case. Griffin was sentenced to six years’ probation in December. According to New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia Gunning, Seelbinder not only broke numerous violations, but she hindered patients’ chances of successful treatment.

“All workers at treatment facilities, in particular licensed professionals, who violate their obligations to their patients by engaging in sexual behavior with them, not only commit criminal conduct, but their actions can also be detrimental to the success of treatment.”

On Tuesday, defense attorney Brian J. Hutchison said Seelbinder only admits to having sex with one patient. However, a lawsuit filed February 6 against the two nurses and the center’s operator alleges the nurses had sex with three men. From February 18 to March 9, 2016, Griffin and Seelbinder let residents take drugs, drink, go on phones and computers, and leave the building—all in violation of the facility’s rules—the suit also claimed.

A March 31 hearing will determine whether Seelbinder, a mother of four, will become a registered sex offender.

[Feature Photo: Niagara County Jail]